Climate Action

Poor countries will bear the brunt of temperature shifts

New research suggests the impacts of climate change will be unevenly distributed between rich and poor countries.

  • 04 May 2018
  • Adam Wentworth

New research suggests the impacts of climate change will be unevenly distributed between rich and poor countries.

Researchers from the Universities of Wageningen, Montpellier and Exeter analysed data from 37 different climate models to assess how variations in global temperatures will change between regions.

The scientists point out that while climate variability has been studied extensively, the level of change and by region has not. Their estimates show that as global temperatures increase, due to climate change, the level of variability will be dramatically different inside and outside tropical regions.

Researchers state their analysis points to a “previously overlooked climate injustice” whereby temperature variability will increase by 15 percent per degree of global warming in the Amazon region and Southern Africa, and by 10 percent degree in the Sahel, India and South East Asia.

By contrast, regions outside these areas, largely within the developed world, will actually see less fluctuations in temperature, partly due to the loss of sea-ice in higher latitude areas. The academics were keen to point out if they are correct, this could have “substantial social, economic, and ecological consequences” due to the inequality of climate impacts and those who bear most responsibility.

Sebastian Bathiany, lead author of the study commented: “The countries that have contributed least to climate change and have the least economic potential to cope with the impacts, are facing the largest increases in temperature variability.”

Professor Marten Scheffer at Wageningen University, and a co-author, said that these increases will make existing pressures for tropical societies more severe, especially since they would not have adapted to the potential changes: “The countries affected by this dual challenge of poverty and increasing variability already share half of the world’s population, and population growth rates are particularly large in these countries.”

Predicted change in temperature fluctuations. Source: Wageningen University